Friday, October 10, 2014

Colts Observations, Week 6 vs. Texans

Quick summary:

The Colts surge out to a quick lead, and this one looks like a rout. But Houston stars Andre Johnson, Arian Foster, and (especially) J.J. Watt have other ideas, launching a fierce comeback and forcing the Colts defense to come up with two late turnovers to seal the victory.

Great start. The Colts got out of the gate quickly, building a 24-0 lead before the Texans even knew what hit them. Luck passed for more than 200 yards in the first quarter alone, tossing touchdown passes to Ahmad Bradshaw and Coby Fleener along the way. Trent Richardson added a touchdown run.

T.Y. triumphant. What a game from Hilton. He caught nine passes for 223 yards and a touchdown. He fell just a yard short of the franchise's all-time receiving mark. Hilton narrowly missed out on a touchdown early in the game after a review showed a Texans defender touched him while trying to avoid contact. In short, he was a much-needed spark plug for the team.

Can we let a call hold just out of spite? I thought Hilton was touched before the replay. I just didn't see how Kareem Jackson could have possibly avoided him. Still, I wanted the call to stand out of spite simply because it was a bonehead move to try to avoid the receiver.

Battle of the Civil War generals. CBS poked some fun at the facial hair of Luck and Ryan Fitzpatrick, dubbing this game the "Beard Bowl." I didn't really think that was funny. However, I got a chuckle out of it when I thought about Luck and Fitzpatrick as Civil War generals. I am easily amused.

Can I get a Watt-Watt? You know, sometimes people talk so much about a player that you don't think they can possibly live up to the hype. That wasn't the case with J.J. Watt. He was all over the place last night. And, as evidenced by the fumble recovery for a touchdown, the dude can flat-out move.

Snap snafu. That fumble, by the way, came after a fumble by Luck, who wasn't expecting the snap so early from Jon Harrison. It looked like Luck was checking on the play clock before calling for the snap. Some observers noted that this was Luck's fault and not Harrison's. However, given that Harrison made three snap-related mistakes last week, does the rookie really deserve the benefit of the doubt?

Ground and pound. For the Colts, 35 carries for 93 yards. They averaged 2.7 yards per carry. It was one of those games where the running game did just enough to make the Texans think about it. Neither Richardson nor Bradshaw found much room to run for most of the night.

Bradshaw's catch. When the Colts needed a boost once the Texans closed the gap to 10 points, Indy faced a third and 10 situation in the second quarter. Luck found Bradshaw for a 17-yard play that picked up the first down. I can't tell you how critical this play was at that precise moment. Momentum had clearly swung to Houston, and a punt would've been a killer here. The Colts ended up getting a field goal from a drive that lasted more than eight minutes.

Fun with clock management, part 1. Andrew Luck called a timeout just before time expired in the first quarter. It looked like the play clock and game clock were lined up, and the quarter could've expired without a delay of game penalty. Maybe Luck just didn't want the Colts' phenomenal first quarter to end? At this stage in the game, the timeout didn't really matter...but the Colts didn't want to risk losing yards for a penalty. Indy ended up scoring a touchdown on the very next play. It all seemed a little befuddling at the time.

Fun with clock management, part 2. At least the previous one made sense when given some context. The end of the first half was a different story. The Colts stopped Houston on third down with about 40 seconds left. They had a timeout remaining, and could've forced a punt and tried their luck at getting a field goal. They had a 13-point lead at the time, so it looked like they'd decided to let the clock run out. That's fine. Then Indy called a timeout with three seconds left. I have no idea why this happened.

Did they get "Rosenfelds'd" or "Mathis'd?" This one's up for debate. With the chance to lead his team on a game-winning drive, Fitzpatrick coughed up the ball. Since there was no helicopter spin, he didn't get "Rosenfels'd." Bjoern Werner tomahawked the ball out of Fitzpatrick's hand for a sack-strip, which is Mathisian. Thus, I'd say the Texans got "Mathis'd" instead of "Rosenfels'd."

For the memories, here's a great recap of the infamous Sage Rosenfels helicopter, which is my favorite "Google fills it in for you" search ever:

Mike Carey was terrible. I don't trust anything that guy says about officiating.

Third down success. Indy was 8-16 on third down in this game, and held the Texans to 1-8.

Consistent pressure. Again, it's hard to say if the pass rush is improving or if Houston's offensive line was up to the task. The Colts harassed Ryan Fitzpatrick all night, finishing with five sacks on the evening. Ricky Jean Francois, D'Qwell Jackson, Erik Walden, Bjoern Werner, and Jonathon Newsome all recorded sacks for the Colts. Even though he was only credited with one tackle and didn't register a sack, Cory Redding was excellent last night.

Did they realize there was an NFL game at their home stadium? The Texans certainly charged back, but it's seldom that you spot a team 24 points and manage to win. The Colts won this game in the first quarter (and nearly lost it in the other three), and it looked like they were going to score 90 points. Busted coverage, poor defense, a special teams disaster (I saw a coach mouth "f*** me" after that onside recovery) and offensive ineptitude all made for an awful first quarter.

The onside kick. How alone was Pat McAfee? There was no one close to the middle of the field, and Indy's punter took advantage, making another perfect kick and doing the dirty work himself by recovering the ball. The Colts cashed in with a quick TD.